At the time Teixobactin was discovered, twenty-eight years had gone by since a new antibiotic had been founded. That’s right – until 2015, the most up-to-date antibiotic development occurred in 1987. So, though it goes without being said, the introduction of Teixobactin into society completely altered modern medicine.
How Was Teixobactin Found?
Researchers discovered Teixobactin using iChip technology, a device containing multiple channels that allow for isolation and organic growth of bacteria. Using these channels, iChip filters out the excess materials while still giving the bacteria every opportunity to obtain the nutrients it needs from the soil. In essence, it lets the bacteria develop naturally while maintaining cleanliness.
What Is Teixobactin?
Teixobactin, a form of antibiotic that grows well in uncultured soil, is recognized for its unique characteristic of effectiveness against Gram-positive bacterium and various drug-resistant strains such as S. aureus (Staph), pharyngitis (Strep), and Tuberculosis (TB). Teixobactin is so effective because it attacks the foundation of the Gram-positive bacteria’s cell wall by binding to the lipids required for its production. This differs from other antibiotics because it impacts multiple lipids. If one develops resistance, there are others still available to be targeted by Teixobactin. In attacking the lipids, Teixobactin inhibits the synthesis of peptidoglycan for the bacterium without disrupting the enzymes surrounding it.
Being so powerful, many researchers were sure that Teixobactin would prove to be harmful against more than just the Gram-positive bacteria. Specifically, they believed that it would destroy mammalian tissues and prove useless in humans. However, researchers found this assumption to be quite false.
The Study to End All Assumptions
Obviously, researchers were skeptical. Was this new antibiotic too good to be true? It was resistant to all Gram-positive bacterium and it was harmless against mammalian tissues. What would be the result when Teixobactin is presented in a realistic scenario?
With those questions in mind, researchers infected mice with methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) at a dosage typically associated with a 90% fatality rate. Upon infection with MRSA and later pneumonia, Teixobactin was introduced. The end result was shocking. All test subjects survived! From this, Teixobactin was dubbed revolutionary.
Where Could This Lead?
Being that only 1% of the antibiotics found within soil environments can be grown in the lab, there is still 99% of unimaginable potential. To put this in perspective, an antibiotic with characteristics like Teixobactin was thought to be almost impossible, especially since it naturally evolved these special components. So, there is a multitude of things that could happen – we could find antibiotics that lead to cures for debilitating diseases, we could find antibiotics against Gram-negative bacterium, and so much more! The possibilities are endless.
In modern society, it has become a common thing for a doctor visit to end in a prescription for antibiotics. In fact, this is so common, that it has actually caused more harm than good. The overuse and abuse of antibiotics by physicians is the major contributing factor in the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria like MRSA.
With that being said, Teixobactin has presented great ability to fight some of the strongest illnesses out there. However, without proper counseling of physicians to be more cautious in its handling, the most dangerous resistant bacteria seen could develop and leave society vulnerable to even stronger bacterial infections.
Editor: Maria ‘Stefi’ Ticsa